How did six MIT students beat Vegas (and a number of other casinos) at Blackjack?
Bringing Down the House, the bestseller from Ben Mezrich, provides the fascinating details about a group of MIT students (lead by a former professor) who perfected the art of counting cards and took Vegas for millions. While most card counters work solo, this group worked as a team, which allowed them not only to escape detection, but also increase profits. By having team members watch tables until they were "hot," the team was able to send in players to bet big money only when the cards were in their favor.
While perfectly legal (in the United States, at least), counting cards proves dangerous for these MIT whiz-kids. While beating Vegas can be done, Vegas makes sure it won't last long.
Mezrich's account is detailed, even if his narrative at points is less streamlined than I might like. But what he lacks in style he accounts for in content--the story is always engaging and at points gripping. He is fortunate enough to be working with a story that is so compelling that it makes up for his shortcomings as an author (which, to be fair, are not many). In all, Bringing Down the House is perfect airport reading--interesting, easy, and enjoyable.
Matthew Lee Anderson is the Founder and Lead Writer of Mere Orthodoxy. He is the author of Earthen Vessels: Why Our Bodies Matter to our Faith and The End of Our Exploring: A Book about Questioning and the Confidence of Faith. Follow him on Twitter or on Facebook.